The journey of an
In 2000, our CEO M. Albert Baussan and his wife Yolande arrive at Trás-os-Montes, in northeast Portugal, where they will establish their beloved “A Capela dos Olivais”.
Albert & Yolande fell in love with the tiny village, Bouça, amid eucalyptus trees and vines. In Bouça they began a complete restoration of Casa Grande do Visconde da Bouça, commencing with a restoration of the existing plantation, where they planted varieties of young trees with the capacity of easily adapting to northern Portugal’s environmental and climatic conditions. Subsequently, they devoted their time and attention to the restoration of the house, dedicated to preserving the spirit and history of this lovely mansion, where an old mill almost in ruin, hidden by vegetation, was discovered.
THE RE-MAKING OF A MILL
Having veered towards olive groves instead of vines, Albert & Yolande embarked upon the endeavor of building a new mill, with high capacity, bound to the production of their future olive oil. Mill specialists equipped it with 3 conic millstones in granite, considered ancient and that removes risk of overheating or oxidation, within an ultramodern efficient structure. The Sociedade Agrícola A Capela Dos Olivais was born. It owes its name to the mansion’s baroque style chapel, which has become the property’s emblem.
Today, the domain produces about 30,000 liters of olive oil. The secret of the A Capela dos Olivais olive oil flavor comes from its terroir (situated in Trás-os-Montes), that offers 3 distinctive olive oils, each with its own gustative structure. The land owes its complexity to rich mineral elements blended throughout its terroir.
PRODUCTION: THE O&CO. WAY
The harvest is called the Olivades
There are 4 main factors that affect the quality and taste of olive oil: the varietals of olives used, the climate (such as: air temperature, sunlight), the soil and weather (where dry conditions can result in really strong olive oil, wet conditions can give a fusty or negative taste to the oil). Throughout Europe, olive groves are harvested between October and March. Each October, like clockwork, at the 'Chapel of the Olives', the harvest begins when workers comb the trees' branches or gently shake them with long poles to make the olives fall to the ground, then pick them up by hand. Why hand harvesting vs. partially mechanized or better yet, fully mechanized? Because olives tend to bruise when they drop to the ground, which can cause oxidation and fermentation of the fruit, resulting in oil with high acidity that negatively affects both the oil’s taste and quality.
At A Capela Dos Olivais, the annual sweep by the group of workers’ nets, vibrating tongs and crates produces up to 30,000 liters of olive oil. In order to keep the olives from fermenting or oxidizing they are immediately transported in perforated crates to the mill, on the day of the olivades, where they are pressed locally. Once picked, if left for more than 2 - 3 days in sacks or crates, they begin to ferment, introducing rancidity and the accumulation of off-flavors.
Green or Black?
We request that our producers harvest as early as possible, when olives are typically green, young and full of flavor, but this also tends to be more expensive for the grower, requiring more olives to produce what we term 'liquid gold'.
When Albert and Yolande Baussan began the restoration of their beloved A Capela Dos Olivais, their first olive harvests tended to fall in alignment with their Portuguese neighbors towards mid November, however, following Eric Verdier’s first tasting of A Capela Dos Olivais’ oils, it was recommended to harvest earlier towards the beginning of October when the olives are young(er), and the oil more precious. M. Baussan heeded this same advice bestowed on many a producer appealing to O&CO.’s selection criteria, and shifted the harvest at A Capela Dos Olivais 6- 8 weeks earlier in the fall. Perhaps not so surprisingly given the communal harvests of villages along the Mediterranean, as M. Baussan’s neighbors began to taste the results of this shift, many local groves followed suit, shifting their own harvests earlier in the season.
Once transported to the mill, the olives are painstakingly sorted and washed in cold water. The olives and their pits are crushed with cylindro-conical grinding wheels made of granite, typically below 77 degrees F. To make O&CO.’s specialty oil Olive & Green Lemon, green lemons are added to the press at this point in the process. These conditions do not cause any chemical changes that may impact the olive's taste profile or the olive's natural nutritional properties of its oil.
Then the olives undergo a centrifugation process to separate the water from the oil and solids. The liquid is allowed to settle before being filtered, for several weeks. The oil is stored in stainless steel vats between 44 and 59 degrees F.
Every October brings the first drop of the extracted 'juice', the first fruit of a year of hard work and pruning. With Eric Verdier on hand for this testing, Albert is back and forth to the press, planting his hands in the mechanical sorter to fill the machine. The result: an unfiltered oil, with the aroma of matcha tea, freshly cut herbs and citrus …distributed by O&CO. as its Olive & Green Lemon oil.
Best before date…the Annual Harvest
From the time the olive oil is made until it is delivered to our boutiques, the O&CO. team monitors its quality, checks its evolution and checks its stability on a daily basis. Olive oil is fragile and unlike wine, does not improve with age. It oxidizes and tends to turn rancid when exposed to light, air and heat. We recommend using it 18 months after it is bottled, which is why we include the best before date in addition to the date of the harvest, the country of origin and name of the producer.
Each year close to 1,000 oils from at least 250 mills are tasted and assessed according to a point system based on organoleptic analysis (taste, smell, texture). Since aromas are molecules, physiochemical tests (levels of acidity, peroxide, oleic acid, etc.) validate O&CO.’s choices of what determines a superior olive oil. LEARN MORE >
O&CO. bottles its oils in tins or tinted glass bottles in order to preserve all of the taste qualities. The name of the producer and mill, the country of origin, the harvest month and year, the varieties of olives used, and the number of bottles produced appear prominently alongside the best before date on all of our O&CO. labels to provide 100% transparency.
We do not mix olive oils of different origins, which would result in sub-standard, bland oil.
Producers set aside their best products for us
The strength of Oliviers & Co. undeniably lies in its strict specifications and very
demanding guidelines for all products bearing the O&CO. label. Our objective is to
encourage excellence in order to give you the best possible olive oil.
Our Rameaux d’Or assortment features Grand Cru oils produced from exceptional groves located exclusively in Tuscany. The gold bottle is symbolic of these rare olive oil gems, like the finest Bordeaux.
Certified by Oliviers & Co., the
Grand Cru selections are the perfect expression of some of the most beautiful terroirs of the Mediterranean. In the tradition of the finest wines, we bring you the best, to be discovered and enjoyed by all.